Filed under MLS
“The game doesnâ€™t appear to have grown much”
20,000+ season tickets in Seattle, 10,000+ season tickets in Philly (months before the team even takes the field)…
You should probably do some research about your topics before writing (if you want to be taken seriously).
After Beckham’s loan deal to a European club in January of 2010 he will be in MLS after the World Cup and play for the Galaxy for 5 to 5 more years. Also, he was not supposed to be the savior of US Soccer (he even said as much in a million interviews) and international stars were not going to be flooding to MLS because few teams would use the Designated Player Rule. David was signed to grow the game and raise the profile which he has done and will continue do for many years.
MLS will receive $180 million from expansion fees for Toronto, Seattle, Philly, Portland, Vancouver and Montreal. Toronto FC capped their season tickets capped at 16,000 and have 15,000 on a waiting list – Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland will have their season tickets capped and have sellout crowds when they begin play in 2011. The Galaxy had the #1 selling soccer jersey in sales for 2 years. The game is growing.
As for your Pele comparison. Attendance for the Cosmos could have gone up 200% and it would have less effect that Beckham’s impact because the NASL owners did not own any of their stadiums. They paid rent. So the Galaxy’s road crowd of 65,000 at Giants Stadium to play Red Bull New York meant little compared to 21,000 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado.
A million interviews might be a bit of a stretch, but Becks and Don Garber did say that many times, including in 2007 when Garber said “that Beckham will save soccer in America. It doesn’t need saving,” but did anyone believe him at the time?
Beckham did grow the MLS and football in the U.S., for a year. But it’s been on a slide since then. So whether he, as just one player, can continue to do that for many years remains to be seen.
No doubt there have been some great success stories in Toronto and Seattle, hopefully in Philly and elsewhere. But there’s no way anyone can realistically call that expansion. While the Galaxy and Toronto are leading the way, and taking the reigns from D.C. United and the N.E. Revolution, there are teams like Dallas, Colorado and Kansas City that will have trouble sticking around by the time Portland and Vancouver take the field.
But neither the MLB, NFL or NBA survive on ticket sales alone. The NFL’s ticket sales only accounted for 40% of their $6.0 billion in revenue in 2008. More than 51% of the league’s revenue comes from their over $3.0 billion/per year TV contracts. So take all the solace in L.A. and Toronto’s attendance. Keep in mind, they’re just two teams and again, overall attendance is down this year. And as long as TV viewership doesn’t start trending upward, the league will continue to be unable to grow. With or without Becks.
“..there are teams like Dallas, Colorado and Kansas City that will have trouble sticking around by the time Portland and Vancouver take the field.”
Those teams aren’t going anywhere. (And Portland and Vancouver will be in the league in March 2011). MLS is a single entity league which means 30% of the revenue that Toronto, Seattle etc earn goes to the league. And you keep saying the league will “continue to be unable to grow” when the league is growing and soccer in the USA (attendance, viewership, sponsorship, etc) is also improving rapidly.
My belief that Kansas City and Colorado may not be around much longer is pure speculation, but so is your assumption that they will be.
And actually what I said is that if the MLS doesn’t get more TV viewership then they won’t be able to grow. Not that there’s no way it’s possible, but this [increase TV viewers] is what they need to do to truly grow.
That’s correct that the MLS operates as a single-entity right now, but my financial comparison to the NFL was only to point out that attendance isn’t the only piece of the success equation for the MLS. TV is a huge piece and one they’re strongly lacking. On the topic of single-entity operation, do you really think L.A., Toronto and Seattle want to share their revenue with Colorado and Kansas City? Of course not.
Shawn, with all due respect, please take a look at the information provided in the links above. Some of your claims appear to have no factual basis.
1. Average attendance in 2009 compared to 2008 is down so far, and league-wide, it was down 1.8% in 2008. 7 of the 13 teams had lower attendance in 2008.
2. Average number of viewers in 2007 was 289,000, average number of viewers in 2008 was 253,000, that means it was down as well.
3. Got any actual numbers on sponsorship? I wouldn’t be surprised if it is up, but I haven’t seen anything to indicate that it is? All I know is that Honda left after 12 years of sponsorship. Not a big shock in the current economy though.
“My belief that Kansas City and Colorado may not be around much longer is pure speculation, but so is your assumption that they will be.”
Not really. What separates the two beliefs is the tens of millions plunked down building Colorado a stadium (the Kansas City Wizards have gotten approval and cleared the land for a similar one).
Also, while Seattle can be dismissed as just an early success, Toronto at this point can’t. They’re most of the way into their third season, they’ve sold out every game they’ve ever played, and the season ticket waiting list is long enough (15,000) that they are seeking the city’s permission to expand their stadium to 30,000.
Judging leagues by their national TV ratings is the favorite means of (if I may mix my sports) armchair quarterbacks, but by that standard the NHL isn’t a major league, either.
And they may not be, but that misses the point that they’re still a multi-billion-dollar-a-year enterprise, which is a level that MLS could conceivably get to without national TV.
That’s great for the Rapids and the Wizards, I hope their stadiums go through. Really not sure what you’re taking issue with regarding Toronto. I’ve said they’re a big success from the start, and they lead the way in the league with the Galaxy.
By the way, there is no possible way that the MLS could ever become a multi-billion dollar enterprise without the aid of national television contracts. They couldn’t even do it with just the meager ones they have already. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think otherwise. There is no way to become that large of a sports league and gain that kind of national popularity without television. Not a chance.
The NHL isn’t a major league. They’ve had their own problems with expansion and need to relocate some teams if they want to become legitimate again. But that’s not the point.
None of that gets to the real issue that I tried to raise. The league may become great. It’s come along way in 12 years already. But as of lately, the league has not grown like it was expected to when David Beckham came to the league. Part of that is related to the U.S. economy. But that can’t account for all of it. The Becks + MLS experiment hasn’t been a smashing success so far. As a soccer/football fan, that’s all I was trying to say.
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